Tag Archives: LGBT

Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff

I’m still recovering my book review buffer from the long read that was Winter of the World. So, it’s another old book review for today. This one I heard about from a podcast that is now defunct. They did an author interview with Huff and I decided to pick up one of her books from the library.

Published: 2004

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 416 pages

Setting: Vancouver, Canada, present day Continue reading

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Still Life by Louise Penny

This was chosen as our next book club reading. I vaguely remember hearing about the series (it’s the first book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series) on What Should I Read Next as being awesome, but that’s all I knew about it going into the book.

Published: 2005

Genre: murder mystery

Length: 312 pages

Setting: Three Pines, near Montreal, Quebec, present day Continue reading

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The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

This is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series that finally showed up from the library. The kids and I fought over who got to read it first. Miss Adventure and I ended up sharing, and losing each other’s bookmarks regularly in the process

Published: 2016

Genre: YA urban fantasy

Length: 459 pages

Setting: Asgard, Alfheim, Jutenheim, and Midgard, six weeks after the events of The Sword of Summer Continue reading

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I originally saw this book on a GeekDad Stack Overflow post at the end of last year. I was perusing the library stacks, looking for an N authored book I wanted to read (last names starting in N are surprisingly uncommon) and came across this one.

Published: 2015

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 317 pages

Setting: a rural town, present day Continue reading

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Hello, Hello by Seanan McGuire

Since I finished all the short stories in Rayguns over Texas, I wanted a new book of short stories. It’s not that I’m running out of authors from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, but I liked switching back and forth. Luckily, I had another book of short stories waiting for me on my Kindle – Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft. (As I’m posting this, the book is still free to download to a Kindle or Kindle app.) The basic premise of the anthology is a group of science fiction writers were brought to Microsoft’s Research Labs and shown some of the cutting edge technology they were working on. The writers were then encouraged to incorporate some of that technology into short stories.

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Setting: near future, an unnamed city

Summary: Angie is a computational linguist, which has come in pretty handy in programming her sister, Tasha’s, computer system. Tasha is deaf, and Angie and her lab have created a software system that is able to translate speech into sign language and vice versa. It’s a learning system, so it can learn new languages and add them to its system just through conversation. One day, they receive a call from Tasha’s house that’s a bit odd. It had a generic avatar and the avatar just keeps repeating “Hello”. That’s standard protocol for learning a new language. Angie’s kids enjoy talking to the avatar, but Angie is wondering who it is. Eventually, we learn the avatar is representing a crow (Tasha is a bird rehabilitator) and the program has learned how to take its sounds and motions and turn them into English.

Final thoughts: Oh, wouldn’t that be awesome if it were true! The story ends with a demonstration to researchers, who immediately start to think about which species they want to put in front of the camera. It’s a modern-day Dr. Doolittle, and I want to be able to talk to the animals too. While the technology is beyond what we are currently capable of, it certainly is within the realm of possibility.

A couple of notes on the story. I figured out the big reveal as soon as the family went to Tasha’s house and saw the crow sitting by the computer. I spent the rest of the story waiting to see when the characters would figure out who the unknown avatar was. It didn’t ruin the story, just made it a bit predictable. As a bonus, the story was about a lesbian couple. The first time I saw “my wife” in the story, I had to go back and check the gender of the narrator. Yes, the narrator was a she like I thought. It wasn’t a big deal – just another characteristic to flesh out the narrator, which is how it should be.

Title comes from: When the computer language program is trying to learn a new language, the avatar repeats “Hello” often, which is what happened when the bird started using the program.

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Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki

Published: 2008

Genre: middle grade graphic novel

Length: 150 pages

Setting: stereotypical suburbs in the U.S., present day

Interest: I’m always on the lookout for graphic novels. Bonus when they have a non-white protagonist. Continue reading

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In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind by Sarah Pinsker

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. Weather was gorgeous here (near 70 and sunny, whereas the day after was 40s, rainy and 30mph winds). We also hosted the family for Easter egg hunting and dinner, so my house was full and I was tired by the time everyone left. Needless to say, blog posts get a little neglected after such a day. But, here’s a short story review that you can go and read yourself if you’re interested. Enjoy!

Published: July 2013 in Strange Horizons (you can read it for free at the link provided)

Genre: science fiction (reality with aliens)

Length: 24 pages

Setting: some indeterminate northern city (it snows in the winter), recent past

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We start the story in the household of an older couple, Millie and George. George has just had a stroke, and Millie reminisces about their life together. George was an architect with many dreams. Most of those dreams went into building a fantastical tree house for the children. George stopped dreaming in 1951. Millie never got the whole story, but it seems that aliens really did crash in Roswell and he was tapped to create an unbreakable prison for them. It devastated him and he relived that feeling with his stroke.

Final thoughts: A sweet story centered around a pretty standard trope – aliens really did land in Roswell. The twist to the story is George designed a blind spot into the prison (Millie noticed it on the original plans she found hidden in the kids’ treehouse) so perhaps the aliens were able to escape. I’m not sure I buy the fact that Millie was able to easily see the blind spot, but no one in the government would notice it and fix the problem while the prison was being built. Even so, it was a delightful little story about a couple growing old together told in flashbacks. I’m not used to seeing stories written from an elderly perspective. The author also had a gay grandson (and it’s not that a big deal was made of the character. He just happened to have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend. He was also the one family member that typically was around the help Millie.)

Title comes from: Not an obvious one. I’m going to guess the joy was the family and relationship Millie and George built together. The abyss behind was the prison George had to build for the aliens that he never talked about.

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